poetry

The Shooting of Dan McGrew

Now I’ve read a lot of rhyming verse and even writ some too . . .
but nothing as refined as this could I ever hope to do.

Maybe it was the times . . .
Maybe it was the rhymes . . .
Maybe it was the ice in Robert’s brain.

But here below is a gem from the snow
I’ll read again and again and again . . . (and so will you)

A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon;
The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a jag-time tune;
Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,
And watching his luck was his light-o’-love, the lady that’s known as Lou.

When out of the night, which was fifty below, and into the din and the glare,
There stumbled a miner fresh from the creeks, dog-dirty, and loaded for bear.
He looked like a man with a foot in the grave and scarcely the strength of a louse,
Yet he tilted a poke of dust on the bar, and he called for drinks for the house.
There was none could place the stranger’s face, though we searched ourselves for a clue;
But we drank his health, and the last to drink was Dangerous Dan McGrew.

There’s men that somehow just grip your eyes, and hold them hard like a spell;
And such was he, and he looked to me like a man who had lived in hell;
With a face most hair, and the dreary stare of a dog whose day is done,
As he watered the green stuff in his glass, and the drops fell one by one.
Then I got to figgering who he was, and wondering what he’d do,
And I turned my head — and there watching him was the lady that’s known as Lou.

His eyes went rubbering round the room, and he seemed in a kind of daze,
Till at last that old piano fell in the way of his wandering gaze.
The rag-time kid was having a drink; there was no one else on the stool,
So the stranger stumbles across the room, and flops down there like a fool.
In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw him sway;
Then he clutched the keys with his talon hands — my God! but that man could play.

Were you ever out in the Great Alone, when the moon was awful clear,
And the icy mountains hemmed you in with a silence you most could HEAR;
With only the howl of a timber wolf, and you camped there in the cold,
A half-dead thing in a stark, dead world, clean mad for the muck called gold;
While high overhead, green, yellow and red, the North Lights swept in bars? —
Then you’ve a haunch what the music meant . . . hunger and night and the stars.

And hunger not of the belly kind, that’s banished with bacon and beans,
But the gnawing hunger of lonely men for a home and all that it means;
For a fireside far from the cares that are, four walls and a roof above;
But oh! so cramful of cosy joy, and crowned with a woman’s love —
A woman dearer than all the world, and true as Heaven is true —
(God! how ghastly she looks through her rouge, — the lady that’s known as Lou.)

Then on a sudden the music changed, so soft that you scarce could hear;
But you felt that your life had been looted clean of all that it once held dear;
That someone had stolen the woman you loved; that her love was a devil’s lie;
That your guts were gone, and the best for you was to crawl away and die.
‘Twas the crowning cry of a heart’s despair, and it thrilled you through and through —
“I guess I’ll make it a spread misere,” said Dangerous Dan McGrew.

The music almost died away . . . then it burst like a pent-up flood;
And it seemed to say, “Repay, repay,” and my eyes were blind with blood.
The thought came back of an ancient wrong, and it stung like a frozen lash,
And the lust awoke to kill, to kill . . . then the music stopped with a crash,
And the stranger turned, and his eyes they burned in a most peculiar way;

In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw him sway;
Then his lips went in in a kind of grin, and he spoke, and his voice was calm,
And “Boys,” says he, “you don’t know me, and none of you care a damn;
But I want to state, and my words are straight, and I’ll bet my poke they’re true,
That one of you is a hound of hell . . . and that one is Dan McGrew.”

Then I ducked my head, and the lights went out, and two guns blazed in the dark,
And a woman screamed, and the lights went up, and two men lay stiff and stark.
Pitched on his head, and pumped full of lead, was Dangerous Dan McGrew,
While the man from the creeks lay clutched to the breast of the lady that’s known as Lou.

These are the simple facts of the case, and I guess I ought to know.
They say that the stranger was crazed with “hooch”, and I’m not denying it’s so.
I’m not so wise as the lawyer guys, but strictly between us two —
The woman that kissed him and — pinched his poke — was the lady that’s known as Lou.

The Cello

She stands alone in the corner of the sunlit room  
 silently awaiting the return of her master.

Only he, has the power to transform her
 from the awkward block of wood she is without him,
 into the instrument of astounding beauty and grace
 she becomes when wrapped in his arms.

There, neck to neck, consumed with the passion of young lovers 
 and the caring respect of old, they flow as one
 to the rhythm of their own private love song.

Only he, can fill her being with the fires of creativity
and allow her to fulfill her destiny.

She waits, lonely, but knowing, 
 anticipating his strong but gentle touch.

The Story

This guy is fascinating to me . . . like one day I took a walk in Central Park and discovered a long lost brother from the sixties before everybody was pigeon holed into this huge social trap of sameness. A time when free thought and weirdness was the order of the day. . . . We need more bonobo’s like him to come out of hiding and not be afraid to do it.

Whats YOUR story? . . . . . . . . .

The Spell Of The Yukon

The Spell of the Yukon

I wanted the gold, and I sought it;
   I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy—I fought it;
   I hurled my youth into a grave.
I wanted the gold, and I got it—
   Came out with a fortune last fall,—
Yet somehow life’s not what I thought it,
   And somehow the gold isn’t all.

 

No! There’s the land. (Have you seen it?)
   It’s the cussedest land that I know,
From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it
   To the deep, deathlike valleys below.
Some say God was tired when He made it;
   Some say it’s a fine land to shun;
Maybe; but there’s some as would trade it
   For no land on earth—and I’m one.

You come to get rich (damned good reason);
   You feel like an exile at first;
You hate it like hell for a season,
   And then you are worse than the worst.
It grips you like some kinds of sinning;
   It twists you from foe to a friend;
It seems it’s been since the beginning;
   It seems it will be to the end.

I’ve stood in some mighty-mouthed hollow
   That’s plumb-full of hush to the brim;
I’ve watched the big, husky sun wallow
   In crimson and gold, and grow dim,
Till the moon set the pearly peaks gleaming,
   And the stars tumbled out, neck and crop;
And I’ve thought that I surely was dreaming,
   With the peace o’ the world piled on top.

The summer—no sweeter was ever;
   The sunshiny woods all athrill;
The grayling aleap in the river,
   The bighorn asleep on the hill.
The strong life that never knows harness;
   The wilds where the caribou call;
The freshness, the freedom, the farness—
   O God! how I’m stuck on it all.

The winter! the brightness that blinds you,
   The white land locked tight as a drum,
The cold fear that follows and finds you,
   The silence that bludgeons you dumb.
The snows that are older than history,
   The woods where the weird shadows slant;
The stillness, the moonlight, the mystery,
   I’ve bade ’em good-by—but I can’t.

There’s a land where the mountains are nameless,
   And the rivers all run God knows where;
There are lives that are erring and aimless,
   And deaths that just hang by a hair;
There are hardships that nobody reckons;
   There are valleys unpeopled and still;
There’s a land—oh, it beckons and beckons,
   And I want to go back—and I will.

They’re making my money diminish;
   I’m sick of the taste of champagne.
Thank God! when I’m skinned to a finish
   I’ll pike to the Yukon again.
I’ll fight—and you bet it’s no sham-fight;
   It’s hell!—but I’ve been there before;
And it’s better than this by a damsite—
   So me for the Yukon once more.

There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting;
   It’s luring me on as of old;
Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting
   So much as just finding the gold.
It’s the great, big, broad land ’way up yonder,
   It’s the forests where silence has lease;
It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
   It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.

Poetry

I took to looking for poetry on the blogs this morning and was sorely displeased with what I found. Now I am almost (not quite) an ancient human being and I came from another era I know, but today’s poetry, forgive my saying, stinks. It is so dark and so dreary it makes even Poe’s stuff seem bright.

Back in the day, even though Vietnam was raging and the draft was on, young people wrote about hope and change (before it became bullshit, Obama)  Dylan led a large crowd and the coffee houses were filled with poets and songsters. The mikes were open to all sorts of greatness (as well as nonsense) . . . but the mood was “WOW” . . . upbeat.

It’s just my personal opinion I know, but I love Dylan and Robert Service and Robert Frost as well as many others. (including Poe!)

Maybe today’s crowd is so intent on being current and different they forgot that, no matter how great their poetry and their music and their art is . . . it is all a language and a language that cannot be understood is worthless. It’s like a preacher speaking in tongues. Who of (less than God) can even understand what the hell he is even talking about.

This poem is for you because it may be that you have not just gotten off the beaten path, but are lost in the jungle of moroseness . . . .

PS If you find what I said offensive, take a look around, read a bunch of poems and try to figure out what the writer is even talking about . . . if you can, more power to you cause this old man sure as all hell can’t . . .

 

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Rainmakers

anger

 

 

Standing alone
In the freezing rain
Among the insane
There is no pain
There is no gain.

The thrill of the fight
The rush while in flight,
Away we go . . . into the night.

Standing alone
Wanting to scream
But it’s not easy to scream
In this fucked up dream.

Where the bullets are slow
And my barrel is bent.
And my target
Will never stay down.

Standing alone
In the rain
Among the crying, among the dying
Watching war go round.

Again-and again-and again.

 

Tao Te Ching (chapter 10)

good vs evil

Original version:

Can one unite the body and the spirit as one and embrace the “Oneness” without departing from the great Tao?

Can one achieve harmony with such gentleness by holding on to the true spirit within as if the innocence of an infant?

Can one free oneself from worldly knowledge and cleanse one’s mind, so that no faults shall be made?

Can a ruler love his people by governing with the natural Way without personal intention? Can the mystic gate to all life essence be opened or closed without the virtue of the mysterious nature?

Can one gain the insight of nature and become a wise person without the effort of action? The mysterious nature creates and nurtures all things without the desire to possess them. It performs with all efforts without claiming for credit.

It flourishes all beings without the intention to take control of. Such is the “Mystic Te” or “Mystic Virtue.”

 

My interpretation:

How hard is it for you to endure the weight of your own ego, while at the same time seeking to embrace the Tao?

Can you ever go backwards to early childhood, before you picked up all the bad habits?

Can you make it all new again by shining up the old ego, and presenting it’s sameness in a different light?

In your ego driven life, will you ever truly love the people under you more than the power you have over them?

Are you capable of being a nurturing boss?

Are you capable of realizing that without embracing the wisdom of the Tao you really aren’t too bright?

The Tao nurtures her children and takes no thought of ownership.

She acts on their behalf yet does not demand obeisance.

She, although being their steward, does not act like a boss.

All this is true virtue.

 

 

 

Tao Te Ching (chapter nine)

good vs evil

 

Original Interpretation:

Those who overly pride wealth is like the overflowing water which shall cause damages. It is better to restrain early.

Those who are not content with fame is like polishing the edge of a knife. The sharper it gets, the easier it is to break.

Wealth and treasures are but illusions that one cannot possess.

Those who are arrogant of their wealth and fame shall invite blame upon oneself.

 

My Interpretation:

Watch the ego, get too full of yourself and you will just make a mess of everything.

Don’t think the knife will remain sharp forever . . . it won’t.

Everything in the Known ultimately deteriorates.

Why be such a fool as to store your wealth in another man’s house, where it will just become a source of worry?

Why not release those chains of insecurity, and share your possessions with the needy while you can?

Then when you age and retire you will be at peace within the Tao and have no fear of death.

Tao Te Ching (chapter eight)

good vs evil

Original interpretation:

A person of great virtue is like the flowing water. Water benefits all things and contends not with them.

It puts itself in a place that no one wishes to be and thus is closest to Tao. A virtuous person is like water which adapts itself to the perfect place. His mind is like the deep water that is calm and peaceful.

His heart is kind like water that benefits all.

His words are sincere like the constant flow of water.

His governing is natural without desire which is like the softness of water that penetrates through hard rocks.

His work is of talent like the free flow of water.

His movement is of right timing like water that flows smoothly.

A virtuous person never forces his way and hence will not make faults.

 

My interpretation:

The Tao is like an oasis in the desert. Her waters provide an endless source of nourishment to all life forms.

To a home she provides the foundation.

To the mind she guards us from foolish thoughts.

She teaches us the way of kindness when dealing with others.

In speech she teaches us to guard our tongue and speak in a simple, direct voice so as not to confuse anyone with double talk.

In government she teaches us orderliness and humility of purpose.

In all our affairs we must call upon her wisdom.

She teaches us not to put off till tomorrow what we should do today.

The Tao never forces us into a corner in such a way that we could blame her for our silliness.

 

 

Tao Te Ching (chapter seven)

good vs evil

Original interpretation:

Heaven is everlasting and earth is enduring.

The reason that they are everlasting is because they do not exist for themselves. Hence, they are long lived.

Thus, although the saint puts himself last, finds himself in the lead. Although he is not self-concerned, finds himself accomplished.

It is because he is not focused on self-interests and hence can fulfill his true nature.

 

My interpretation:

Heaven and Earth will exist forever because they are the known presence of the unknown Tao. (God)

The wise man understands the meaning of “oneness” therefore as he quietly remains in shadow, his spirit dances in the sun light for all to see.